Sitting on the dock of the bay..

Brighton_pier John Pridmore my former school chaplain in splendid form in the Church Times this week on why the Church of England is a bit like a pier.

Here's the extract – you can find lots more goodies on the Church Times site itself. There's a ton of material about the Pope's visit which I haven't yet had time to go through.

'I AM sitting in a deckchair on the Palace Pier, Brighton. It occurs to me that the structure that supports me (the pier, not the deckchair) is an image of the Church of England. The analogy holds good in three respects. First, the Palace Pier — like the Church of England — crosses the boundary between the known and the unknown. One end of the pier is on dry land, where we suppose we’re safe; the other is out at sea, where we’re certainly not. The pier, on its spindly legs, straddles two realms. So does the Church of England. Like all the Churches, it is earthbound, but when occasionally it raises its eyes, it reaches out to the eternal. Second, the Palace Pier won’t last for ever. Sitting in my deckchair, I survey the skeletal ruins of the West Pier, half a mile along the shore. Sooner or later, the Palace Pier will go the same way. Its filigree ironwork is as frail as our flesh. The C of E, too, is approaching the end of its shelf-life, just as each of us is. That is not in the least bit sad — merely a fact. Third, and above all, the Palace Pier, like the Church of England, is essentially a playful project. On the pier, holidaymakers wear their silly hats. The elevated in our church sport their equally comic headgear. Much on the pier reminds me of the games we play in church. There is something quintessen­tially Anglo-Catholic about the pier’s traditional merry-go-round, with its band-organ, its rococo decorations, its unchanging rhythms, and its defiance of modern­ity. In contrast, “The Booster” at the end of the pier (“unsuitable for those with a heart condition”), the terrifying engine that swings you upside-down half­way to heaven, is clearly a Charismatic contraption. On the pier, as in many a pulpit, there are purveyors of candy-floss. The drivers of the bumper-cars, intent on biffing each other, have obviously just got back from General Synod. Life on the pier is through-and-through playful. So, too, is the life of faith. To become a disciple is to join a game of “Follow-my-leader”, and to seek the Kingdom of God is to hunt a thimble hidden in a field.'

 

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